Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cravings: Panforte



I know this is not the right season to be talking about Panforte, but since no one gave me one during the holidays, I thought I would make one for myself for Valentine's Day!

I was browsing thru David Lebovitz's site and drooled over his version that was quite different from the traditional Siena style panforte. I had some candied orange peel leftover from Christmas baking, so a February panforte it was going to be.

Panforte is a dense candy like confection, no eggs or butter, more like a chewy nutty fruitcake (like me). It is traditionally served during the holidays in Tuscany, made exclusively in Siena. I made Nick Malgieri's version back when I was a young blogger in 2008 and it was excellent, but this was a different animal.

A tradizionale version would usually have almonds, honey, cloves, cinnamon, candied citron and honey.



This David version had melted chocolate, black pepper?, chili powder?, mixed nuts and the works. I had to try it.

David suggests using a 9" springform pan lined w/ parchment paper, however, I had such good luck 4 years ago using Malgieri's method of lining a shallow tart pan w/ foil sprayed with PAM, that I was not going to deviate.

A tip: use the best and freshest nuts that you can. Did you know that nuts go rancid very easily? I keep mine in the fridge, tightly sealed and smell and taste them always before using. (Hint from Heloise!).

You only need a little slice of panforte with coffee after dinner (or in my case, two slices), and it serves a lot of people. It is perfect for the dreary days of February and March, so go ahead, make one!

Happy Valentines Day!

Panforte: (adapted from David Lebovitz)

5 tablespoons (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
2 1/2 cups (325g) nuts; any mix of walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, toasted and very coarsely chopped
3/4 cup (110g) flour
1 cup (200g) chopped candied citron or another candied citrus
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
pinch of grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
3 ounces (85g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (200g) sugar
3/4 cup (210g) honey
extra cocoa powder, for dusting the pan
powdered sugar, for dusting the panforte

Line a shallow, 9" tart pan w/ removable bottom with aluminum foil, pressing down on the sides and bottom to securely fit the pan. Spray w/ PAM or other nonstick spray.
Dust with some cocoa powder, getting it around the sides too.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Mix the nuts with the 5 tbsp of cocoa powder, flour, candied peel and spices. Use a silicon spatula to mix everything, it will make life much easier.

In a small saucepan heat the honey and sugar on medium heat until it bubbles slightly and is incorporated. Pour the honey syrup into the bowl w/ the nuts and spice mixture.



Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a glass bowl for about 45 seconds until liquidy. Pour into the bowl with the rest of the mixture. Mix well. The batter will be thick and very sticky.

Spread the batter into the prepared foil lined pan and pat down to smooth w/ your hands.

Bake for 35 minutes. It will look like a cake and be nice and firm.



Let cool on a rack in the pan a few minutes, then remove the entire foil from the pan. It should lift out easily. Continue to cool on a rack.

When totally cooled, dust with powdered sugar. Slice into small slices and serve.
The panforte will keep for weeks, wrapped in foil.

In all honesty, I have tried a lot of panfortes in my life, and I always mail order them when I can from Italy. This is the BEST BEST version I have ever tried. It is unusual. I loved the addition of chocolate and finishes with a nice spicy taste in your mouth.

Holy cow wow.



Happy Valentine's Day to all my friends! xo

Enjoy!

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11 comments:

Ciao Chow Linda said...

This panforte sounds so much more interesting than what I've eaten in the past - and fresh from the oven sounds so much better than those versions you buy and don't know how long they've been sitting in packages. happy Valentine's Day to you and Henry.

The Japanese Redneck said...

Hope you and your sweetie have the bested Valentine's Day.

Anonymous said...

Sweets to the sweet. I've committed to bringing David Lebovitz's Almond Cake to a friend's home this weekend - http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/06/almond-cake-recipe/
Ever make it? I almost never bake so it's a little scary. Should pan out ok - his recipes are pretty much gold standard.

Stacey Snacks said...

I agree, I always trust David or Martha Stewart's baking recipes.

The only Lebovitz recipe that I did not love was his pain d'epice. It was too dry. The almond cake is SO GOOD! Enjoy!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Thanks for bringing back a little bit of Tuscany on my dreary winter day (OK. We know it's not as dreary as it usually is in February, but still it's not October in Tuscany.) I remember eating slices of it on the clubhouse patio at lunchtime as a preview to my outing in Siena last fall. I didn't eat any radical versions (chocolate was as different as it got), so maybe I need to look into something a little jazzed up American style!

Oui, Chef said...

Just so you know, you're my favorite chewy, nutty fruitcake! I've never had a panforte, but it sounds and looks fabulous. Thanks for turning me onto it!

Proud Italian Cook said...

You sold me with the black pepper and chili powder!

Joanne said...

I don't know that there's ever a bad or out-of-season time for panforte. It's just too delicious for any such rules. :P

Anonymous said...

NEWSFLASH! - The almond cake's in the oven and my house smells delicious. I STILL haven't purchased a food processor, and was all wrong thinking that a hand held mixer could handle sanding the almond paste & sugar. Presto, my blender to the rescue. In batches. After that, the hand held did fine. Not being a baker, I'm always a bit shocked by how much 'sin' goes into a cake. Don't think I've ever seen a batter as silkily decadent as this one.

Anonymous said...

NEWSFLASH! - The almond cake's in the oven and my house smells delicious. I STILL haven't purchased a food processor, and was all wrong thinking that a hand held mixer could handle sanding the almond paste & sugar. Presto, my blender to the rescue. In batches. After that, the hand held did fine. Not being a baker, I'm always a bit shocked by how much 'sin' goes into a cake. Don't think I've ever seen a batter as silkily decadent as this one.

Lea said...

I love nuts,This looks really yummy.
http://leascooking.blogspot.com/